Study Guide

Henry Fanshaw in Nation

By Terry Pratchett

Henry Fanshaw

Daphne's father is the man who will be king. Not because he's a king's son or anything. He's actually 139th in line, but a plague has wiped out the 138 people ahead of him. His own mother refers to this as Divine Providence. Not so providential for the people who died, but, sure—given the way the gods (or whatever) seem to act in this book, it may as well be an act of god.

We don't see much of His Excellency, nor does Daphne think much about him other than he's coming to save me! We know he tells dad jokes —you know, the kind that aren't "very funny but sort of lovable in [their] silliness" (4.8). See? All good dads are the same, whether or not they're royalty.

Every Day I'm Sufferin'

But telling bad jokes doesn't mean he's not a serious guy. After the death of his wife and newborn son during childbirth, Henry retreats into his work and becomes distant—two qualities he shares with Mau, interestingly enough. (What do you think it says about Daphne?)

And he's got some major feelings inside that distant exterior: "Perhaps at the other end of the world there is a place where the screaming can't be heard, and I may find it in my heart to grant God absolution" (4.56). Remember, this guy is an explorer. Maybe he's trying to use the wonders of science and human achievement to replace the random acts of god that have taken away his wife and son.

Even if he's no longer God's pawn, the king is still a pawn. See, the Gentlemen of Last Resort, a shady group of characters named after different colors à la Reservoir Dogs, serve the Crown. No, not the king—the monarchy itself. As one of them says, " we serve ... a higher purpose" (1.32). (Check out our "Symbols" section for more thoughts on this ultimate symbol of royalty.)